DirecTV Now vs. Sling TV vs. YouTube TV vs. Hulu and more: Live TV channels compared - CNET

20180726-153243

Each service offers a different mix of channels and pricing. 

David Katzmaier/CNET

Deciding to cut the cable TV cord doesn't mean you have to give up live TV.

One way to watch live TV without cable is to connect an antenna. It's cheap (read: free) and effective, as long as you're willing to live with the handful of local channels available in your area. And assuming you get good reception.

If that's not good enough, and you're willing to shell out a monthly payment, you should check out a live TV streaming service. They deliver numerous familiar channels like ESPN, CNN, Fox News and TNT, as well as features like cloud DVRs and the ability to watch not only on TVs, but also on phones, tablets and computers.

Eight major services are available today: Hulu with Live TV, Google's YouTube TV, Dish Network's Sling TV, Sony's PlayStation Vue, AT&T's DirecTV Now and Watch TVPhilo and Fubo TV. They cost $15 per month and up. Our full guide has all the details, but really, it's all about the channels.

The big chart: Top 100 channels compared (updated May 28, 2019)

The main difference between each service is their channel lineups. All of them offer different slates of channels for various prices. 

None have as many channels as most traditional cable or satellite TV packages, especially when it comes to sports. On the other hand, maybe they have enough for you -- especially if you're saving a bunch of money every month by not paying the cable company for channels you don't watch.

Below you'll find a chart that shows the top 100 channels across all eight services. There are actually nine listed, because Sling TV has two different "base" tiers, Orange and Blue. And if you're wondering, I chose which "top" channels made the cut. Sorry AXS TV, Discovery Life, FYI, GSN and Universal HD.

Now playing: Watch this: Live TV streaming services for cord cutters: How to choose...

Some more stuff to know about the chart: 

  • Yes = The channel is available on the cheapest pricing tier. That price is listed next to the service's name.
  • No = The channel isn't available at all on that service. One popular channel, PBS, isn't available on any service but I listed it anyway.
  • $ = The channel is available for an extra fee, either a la carte or as part of a more expensive package or add-on.
  • Regional sports networks -- channels devoted to showing regular-season games of particular pro baseball, basketball and/or hockey teams -- are not listed. That's a numeric disadvantage to services like YouTube TV and Fubo, which carry a lot of RSNs, and an advantage to Philo and AT&T, which don't offer any sports channels, period. 
  • ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, MyNetworkTV and The CW networks are only available in certain cities, and availability varies widely per service. In some cities, some services only offer video-on-demand shows from the networks, not the live local channel itself. (Note: CBS is the parent company of CNET.)
  • PBS isn't available on any service (yet) but it's definitely a top channel, so it gets a row.
  • The chart columns are arranged in order of price, so if you can't see everything you want, try scrolling right.
  • Overwhelmed? An easier-to-grok Google Spreadsheet is here.
Channel AT&T Watch TV ($15) Philo ($20) Sling Orange ($25) Sling Blue ($25) Hulu with Live TV ($45) PS Vue ($45) YouTube TV ($50) DirecTV Now ($50) Fubo TV ($55)
Total channels: 35 38 24 39 58 47 63 45 62
ABC No No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
CBS No No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NBC No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
PBS No No No No No No No No No
CW No No No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes
MyNetworkTV No No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
A&E Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes
AMC Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No Yes
Animal Planet Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes No No
BBC America Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No Yes
BBC World News Yes Yes $ $ No $ Yes No $
BET Yes Yes $ Yes No No No Yes Yes
Big Ten Network No No No No Yes $ Yes $ Yes
Bloomberg TV No No Yes Yes No No No No No
Boomerang Yes No $ $ Yes $ No Yes $
Bravo No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cartoon Network Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
CBS Sports Network No No No No Yes $ Yes $ Yes
Cheddar No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Cinemax No No No No $ $ No $ No
CMT No Yes $ $ No No No $ Yes
CNBC No No No $ Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
CNN Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Comedy Central Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes
Cooking Channel No Yes $ $ No $ No No $
C-SPAN No No No No No No No No No
Destination America No Yes $ $ No Yes No No No
Discovery Channel Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Disney Channel No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Disney Junior No No $ No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Disney XD No No $ No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
DIY No Yes $ $ No $ No No $
E! No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
EPIX No No $ $ No $ $ No No
ESPN No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
ESPN 2 No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
ESPNEWS No No $ No Yes $ Yes $ No
ESPNU No No $ No Yes $ Yes $ No
Food Network Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Fox Business No No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox News No No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox Sports 1 No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox Sports 2 No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes $ Yes
Freeform No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
FX No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
FX Movie Channel No No No No Yes $ Yes Yes Yes
FXX No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Golf Channel No No No $ Yes $ Yes $ Yes
Hallmark Yes Yes $ $ No $ No Yes Yes
HBO No No No No $ $ No Yes No
HGTV Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
History Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes
HLN Yes No $ $ Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
IFC Yes Yes Yes Yes No $ Yes No Yes
Investigation Discovery Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Lifetime Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes
Lifetime Movie Network Yes Yes $ $ No No No No Yes
Motor Trend No Yes Yes No Yes $ Yes No No
MLB Network No No $ $ No $ Yes No No
MSNBC No No No $ Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
MTV Yes Yes $ $ No No No Yes Yes
MTV2 Yes Yes $ $ No No No No $
National Geographic No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Nat Geo Wild No No No Yes Yes $ Yes Yes Yes
NBA TV No No $ $ No $ Yes No Yes
NBC Sports Network No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Newsy No No Yes Yes No No Yes No $
NFL Network No No No Yes No $ No No Yes
NFL Red Zone No No No $ No $ No No $
NHL Network No No $ $ No No No No No
Nick Jr. No Yes $ Yes No No No Yes Yes
Nickelodeon Yes Yes No No No No No Yes Yes
Nicktoons Yes Yes $ $ No No No No $
OWN Yes Yes No No No Yes No No No
Oxygen No No No $ Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Paramount Network No Yes $ Yes No No No $ Yes
Science No Yes $ $ No Yes No No No
SEC Network No No $ No Yes $ No $ No
Showtime No No $ $ $ $ $ $ $
Smithsonian No No No No Yes No Yes No Yes
Starz No No $ $ No No $ $ No
Sundance TV Yes Yes $ $ No $ Yes No Yes
Syfy No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tastemade No Yes No No No $ Yes No No
TBS Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Telemundo No No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tennis Channel No No $ $ No $ Yes No $
TLC Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
TNT Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Travel Channel No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
TruTV Yes No $ Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Turner Classic Movies Yes No $ $ Yes $ Yes Yes Yes
TV Land Yes Yes $ $ No No No $ Yes
Univision No No No No No No No No Yes
USA Network No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
VH1 Yes Yes $ $ No No No Yes Yes
Viceland Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes
WE tv Yes Yes $ $ No Yes Yes No Yes
Weather Channel No No No No No No No No Yes

Originally published Nov. 28, 2016.
Update, May 28, 2019: Adds latest channels and pricing.

CNET may get a commission from retail offers.

Want to enhance your online marketing?
We can help!

Automated Marketing Solution
Social Media Marketing & SEO

Need more info?

Click here to find out more information about this article.